The Joker: Diary of a giggling madman
Bruce Wayne may have a tortured soul, but he’s not getting any light relief from this clown whenever he’s in town…
Batman’s nemesis The Joker first appeared in issue 1 of the Batman comic, in 1940. He had a white face, a perpetual grin and everything about him shrieked ‘fun gone wrong’.
In February 1978 The Joker took centre stage on the cover of Detective Comics issue 475, holding two fish as though they were pistols. Sinister and scary but loopy enough to be funny, the plot tells of how he’s poisoned the fish so that they develop faces just like his. Then he demands a cut of all fish sales in Gotham.
Recent decades have seen a far darker side to The Joker, epitomised in the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, pencilled by Brian Bolland and written by Alan Moore. The following year, Dave McKean and Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum arrived. Dave had painted the 128-page treat in his inimitable multimedia style. Here The Joker and Two-Face take over the asylum.
Of course, while Batman is obsessed with keeping The Joker behind bars, the mad clown himself is obsessed with bringing down the bat. This is reflected in artist Jock’s striking, graphic cover for Detective Comics 880. “I just wanted to try and show the most unhinged Joker image that I could. The guy is a total nutcase, so I feel I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t make it slightly unsettling to look at,” he says.
BAT OUT OF HELL In July 2011, Jock’s cover demonstrated that The Joker’s very existence is defined by his old adversary.
ON A SCALE
TO crazy Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin worked on The Laughing Fish, a kooky Batman classic.